The chance discovery of a seven-room royal hammam (oriental bath) in a Kashmir Mughal Garden here can throw a new light on the architectural excellence of the Mughal era.
The bath with sitting rooms, bathtubs and an excellent central heating arrangement by hot water circulation through copper pipes was discovered recently, officials said.
The discovery was made in the famous Shalimar Garden, on the eastern bank the Dal Lake, 12 km from the heart of the city. The Shalimar Garden was built by Mughal Emperor Jehangir in 1616 to celebrate his love for his wife Nur Jahan.
"Gardeners were shifting soil from one area of the garden when they discovered a construction, which later turned out to be a seven-room hammam," said Sheikh Shabir Ahmad, the floriculturist in charge of the garden.
"We also discovered earthen vessels, bathtubs, toilets, sitting and retiring rooms inside the construction. It is definitely a royal hammam built for Emperor Jehangir and his wife Nur Jahan," Ahmad said.
The authorities, in consultation with the archaeological department, are now in the process of restoring the royal bath to its original glory without disturbing the basic excellence of its layout.
"It is quite possible that the royal hammam was built in 1619 when the emperor and his wife came to Kashmir to spend time because of the emperor's failing health," an archaeological official.
Emperor Nurrudin Salim Jehangir ruled India from 1605 to 1628.
Of all his 20 wives, Mehr-un-Nisa, popularly known as Nur Jahan, was the emperor's wisest and the most favourite wife.